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Atieh Babakhani

International Students: Studying Law in the USA

Drexel University's Kline School of Law offers three degrees for international students — including two programs for students who already have a first degree in law. Below you'll find information on how to apply to law school as an international student as well as requirements for each degree program.

JD Degree Program Options

The Kline School of Law offers two different Juris Doctor (JD) degrees, both available to international students:

  • The Global Access JD degree, which takes as little as two years to complete, prepares graduates of international law programs to practice law in the United States. Up to 28 credits from your non-U.S. law degree can be applied to the 85-credit Global JD requirement.
  • The traditional JD degree, which takes three years to complete, attracts international students who do not have a first degree in law.

International students are not required to submit an LSAT score for admission to these programs. However, the Kline School of Law maintains competitive standards. That means:

  • Applicants should have strong academic records.
  • Applicants who have a law degree in a language other than English must submit either a TOEFL or IELTS score. Successful applicants will typically have earned a 100 on the TOEFL or a 7.5 on the IELTS.

Once an international student graduates with their JD degree, they are able to take the bar exam (in limited jurisdictions) and practice as an attorney if they pass.

LLM Degree Program

The Kline School of Law’s LLM in American Legal Practice is a 24-credit program that provides internationally trained law graduates with both a deep understanding of the U.S. legal system and an opportunity to see how the law is applied in professional practice. LLM students work with a faculty adviser to design a curriculum unique to their interests.

All LLM students must have completed an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree in law.

International applicants must provide:

  • A completed application
  • Academic transcripts verified by LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service or another credential evaluation service
  • Proof of English proficiency with a TOEFL or IELTS score
  • A written personal statement expressing their interest in the program
  • Resume
  • Two letters of recommendation

Once the admissions team has thoroughly reviewed an applicant’s materials, a Skype, in-person or telephone interview may be requested.

Drexel offers three separate LLM tracks for international students. These include:

  • Business and Commercial Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Law

Once an international student graduates with their LLM degree, the graduate is able to take the bar exam (in limited jurisdictions) and practice as an attorney if they pass.

The New York Bar Exam Concentration is designed to prepare LLM students to meet the course requirements for New York Bar Exam eligibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

What academic programs does Kline offer for International Students who have studied law before?

The LLM (Master of Laws) and the Global JD degrees are intended for students who have previously earned an initial law degree. Our one-year LLM in American Legal Practice provides internationally trained law graduates with both a deep understanding of the U.S. legal system and an opportunity to see how the law is applied in professional practice.

Kline’s highly competitive Global Access JD prepares graduates of international law programs to practice law in the United States in as little as two years. Students can transfer Up to 28 credits from their non-U.S. law degree and apply them towards the 85 credit JD requirement. The LSAT exam is not required. For more information, go to How to Apply.

Can I practice law in the United States with an LLM degree?

To practice law in the United States, you must be admitted to the Bar Association for the state in which you would like to practice. There are two paths to bar admission in the U.S.: 1) Admission by examination (sitting for the state’s bar exam); and 2) Admission not by examination (a “waiver” is granted so the person does not have to sit for the particular state’s bar exam).

Earning an LLM degree does not qualify international lawyers to sit for the bar exam of every U.S. state. Graduates with an LLM from an ABA-approved law school are eligible to take the bar exam on this basis alone in New York, California, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Palau.

It is incumbent on the individual to contact the state board of bar examiners in the state to which they aspire to practice as a lawyer to determine the requirements for taking the bar exam. More information can be found in Chart 4 in the Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements.

Can I work while studying in the United States?

International students in the United States have very specific regulations regarding employment depending on your immigration status. For more information on employment while on a student visa, visit Drexel University’s International Students and Scholars Services page.

Can an international student who has not previously studied law apply to law school?

Yes, you can apply for the traditional three-year JD program. In the United States, law is a postgraduate degree, so eligibility requires a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in any field as long as you have graduated before the start of classes in August. You must take the LSAT. For more information on this exam, visit lsac.org.

Can I submit my admissions materials directly to the school?

No. You must submit all documents through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service.

How does Kline evaluate foreign transcripts?

International transcripts must be evaluated by LSAC. Upon submissions of your application, LSAC sends a full translation and summary of your transcript in addition to the original copy. LSAC provides us an evaluation of the transcript and translates the GPA you received to its US equivalent. This is not done on a 4.0 scale but rather on the basis of U.S. letter grades.

For more information, consult the LSAC Credential Assembly Service.

Do you require the TOEFL or IELTS?

All international students must take the TOEFL or IETLS. Exceptions are granted for students who come from an English-speaking country or have completed another degree in the United States. Please contact the admissions team for a waiver which will require an interview (in-person or via Skype).

Does it matter if my international bachelor’s degree took less than or more than four years to complete?

Your undergraduate degree should be equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree. The duration of the program is not an issue, so long as you have met the complete degree requirements as determined by the LSAC Credential Assembly Service.

Is financial aid available for international students?

All applicants are automatically considered for merit-based aid upon submission of your application. Your merit scholarship will be included in your acceptance email. We do not offer full-tuition scholarships.

Is there on-campus housing available?

Drexel University offers housing to post-baccalaureate and graduate students at Stiles Hall on the Center City Campus.

The International house, located just blocks form the school, while not technically on campus, is a viable option.